For a re­view of “Pi­rates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,”

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It’s been six years since the fourth movie in the amuse­ment park ride- in­spired “Pi­rates of the Caribbean,” that one sub­ti­tled “On Stranger Times,” sailed into lo­cal the­aters.

It was be­gin­ning to look like the Dis­ney Stu­dios had keel­hauled the fran­chise leav­ing Johnny Depp to make such for­get­table flops as “The Lone Ranger,” “The Rum Diary,” “Dark Shad­ows” and “Tran­scen­dence.” Out of re­spect for Depp, the film “Morde­cai” will only be known as the movie whose name won’t be men­tioned.

Some time opened up in Depp’s sched­ule and he’s slipped back into his rac-coon-eyes makeup to re­turn to the role of love­able lush Cap­tain Jack Spar­row in “Pi­rates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.” Right off the bat there’s trou­ble be­cause the fran­chise has been loaded with dead men who have been telling tales in the form of ghost pi­rates and this one is no dif­fer­ent. So, the name is a lit­tle mis­lead­ing.

And, that is the big­gest clue towhat goes wrong with this fifth ad­ven­ture on the high seas. Jeff Nathanson’s script is as choppy as an ocean dur­ing a hur­ri­cane bounc­ing on waves of bad puns, cheap jokes, con­vo­luted fam­ily mat­ters and a sea myth that makes as much sense as tak­ing a wood­pecker on a ca­noe ride. Nathanson strains to cre­ate emo­tional mo­ments and has the same num­ber of prob­lems giv­ing Spar­row any­thing fresh to say.

T his is a sum­mer movie where the de­sign is sup­posed to be 98 per­cent ac­tion, 1 per­cent writ­ing and 1 per­cent try­ing to come up with ways to make the 3D ver­sion have enough mo­ments to make the film worth the ex­tra cost. Too much time was wasted on the writ­ing and 3D ideas and that keep get­ting in the way of the movies fun mo­ments.

“Dead Men” fea­tures sev­eral high- en­ergy ac­tion scenes staged by di­rec­tors Joachim Ron­ning and Espen Sand­berg ( who have only min­i­mal ex­pe­ri­ence with fea­ture films).

One se­quence that in­cludes drag­ging an en­tire build­ing through the streets of St. Martin has the kind of fast and fu­ri­ous look that has be­come the hall­mark of sum­mer movies. Any mo­men­tum from that spec­tac­u­lar scenes gets lost when Nathanson tries to piece to­gether all of the bits and pieces of ideas that went into the plot.

It would have helped if Nathanson had nar­rowed the cast of play­ers. Spar­row is be­ing chased by a young man try­ing to save his fa­ther from a sea curse, a fe­male astronomer who ev­ery­one things is a witch, the grumpy Bar­bossa ( Ge­of­frey Rush), the ghostly sea cap­tain Salazar ( Javier Bar­dem) and most of the Bri­tish navy. There’s a se­quence on an is­land where Spar­row is forced into a shot­gun ( or would it be shots word?) wed­ding. All that’s miss­ing is a guest ap­pear­ance by “The Guardians of the Galaxy.”

No cheap laugh is ig­nored. When Ca­rina Smyth ( played with spunky vigor by Kaya Scode­lario) tells the crew of pi­rates that she’s a horol­o­gist, they don’t ap­pre­ci­ate her skill with watches but as­sumes she makes a liv­ing with the world’s old­est pro­fes­sion. Sadly, her en­ergy is never chan­neled into enough good to give the film the strong fe­male lead it needed. Also, the forced ro­mance be­tween her and Will Turner ( Bren­ton Th­waites) never shows the kind of sparks Or­lando Bloom and Keira Knight­ley showed dur­ing their “Pi­rate” days.

“Dead Men” shows life when there are big ac­tion scenes. If 30 min­utes of jum­bled mythol­ogy and cheesy writ­ing had been cut, the movie would have had an ac­tion beat as driv­ing as the heart- pound­ing score by Ge­off Zanelli, who car­ries on the work done in the pre­vi­ous films by Hans Zimmer. In­stead, “Pi­rates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” mixes some fun mo­ments with other scenes that leave the pro­duc­tion high and dry. At least it’s not nearly as bad as the film whose name shall not be men­tioned.

“Pi­rates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” a Dis­ney Films release, is rated PG- 13 for ac­tion scenes, sug­ges­tive con­tent. Run­ning time: 135 min­utes. ½


No for­mula for suc­cess ex­ists re­gard­ing fea­ture films based on late 20th cen­tury tele­vi­sion shows. There are only odds fa­vor­ing par­tial or com­plete fail­ure. So that’s comforting.

But what about “21 Jump Street” and “22 Jump Street”? Didn’t those movies work? Yes, they did. Es­pe­cially the first one, which was crude with­out be­ing brain­less, and re­lent­lessly self- ref­er­en­tial with­out pound­ing the jokes into the ground. Be­yond “Jump Street,” let’s see… we’ve grit­ted our teeth through “The Dukes of Haz­zard” and a dozen more, most re­cently “CHiPs.” And now we have “Bay­watch,” star­ring Dwayne John­son and Zac Efron.

The bod­ies on screen are pretty, which I seem to re­mem­ber was a sell­ing point of the 1989- 2001 TV se­ries. The movie’s comic in­stincts, though, are con­sis­tently coarse and fre­quently scro­tal. This is what’s good about the R- rated “Bay­watch” trailer eas­ily found on­line. It will help you, the con­sumer, de­cide if the­movie’s the kind of wringer you want to put your money through.

The plot, of course, is fas­ci­nat­ing and mul­ti­lay­ered. Briefly: When a mur­der­ous stilet­toed de­vel­oper ( Bol­ly­wood star Priyanka Cho­pra) starts flood­ing the Bay­watch wa­ters with drugs in or­der to drive down real es­tate val­ues and snap up the land her­self, it’s up to su­per­guard Mitch Buchan­non ( John­son), his im­petu­ous Olympian swim­mer party- boy re­cruit Matt Brody ( Efron), ethe­real cleav-age-pur­veyor C. J .( Kelly Rohrbach), Sum­mer( Alexan­dra Dad­dario, who Zens her way through the ma­te­rial) and the gang to play crime fight­ers in ad­di­tion to life­savers.

Screen­writ­ers Mark Swift and Damian Shan­non cranked out the “Fri­day the 13th” re­boot and “Freddy vs. Ja­son.” They may well be amus­ing fel­lows in real life. But there is scant ev­i­dence on screen in “Bay­watch,” which wob­bles around in terms of tone and style, hal­firon­i­cally, half- sin­cerely and lets the mon­tages do the heavy lift­ing. There is, in fact, a heavy- lift­ing mon­tage pit­ting John­son against Efron in dis­plays of mus­cu­la­ture. The movie is all preen­ing and very few laughs, though Dad­dario and Efron have a few mo­ments, and John­son re­mains a supremely lik­able slab of movie star.

The TV show that con­quered the in­no­cent cheese­cake uni­verse took place in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, along Mal­ibu Beach. The movie is set in Florida though it was shot largely in cost- ef­fi­cient Ge­or­gia. I never thought I’d care much about at­mos­phere and lo­ca­tion film­ing when it came to a “Bay­watch” movie. But with di­rec­tor Gor­don shoot­ing var­i­ous ac­tion scenes in and around la­goons and along rather pal­lid- look­ing stretches of wa­ter­front, at times the re­sults arem ore akin to an HGTV episode of “Beach­front Bar­gain Hunt.”

Gor­don has made ter­ri­ble come­dies (“Four Christ­mases,” “Iden­tity Thief”) plus a pretty good en­try in the en­sem­ble raunch realm ( the first “Hor­ri­ble Bosses”). This one washes up some­where in be­tween.

“Bay­watch,” a Para­mount Pic­tures release, is rated R for crude sex­ual con­tent, lan­guage through­out and graphic male nu­dity. Run­ning time: 119 min­utes. ½


Dwayne John­son, left, and Zac Efron star in the new Para­mount Pic­tures film “Bay­watch.”

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